A “Pretty Little Village” that you can’t access is a topic of conversation I have often heard among my neighbors in Wiscasset. As several of my neighbors have gotten older they realize that they no longer can walk into town on the slippery brick sidewalks and crumbling stairs leading into the stores. My immediate neighbor sits in her car as friends or hired helpers shop for her as she is afraid of falling.

Sadly, on March 16, while I was drafting this letter, I witnessed a woman falling on the slippery sidewalk seriously injuring her arm.

If this lawsuit continues, MDOT could potentially walk away from the downtown project except for putting up traffic lights, adding the bump outs (curb extensions) for pedestrians to more quickly cross Route 1, and taking out the downtown parking which the Governor has requested. Besides the lawsuit affecting the parking, it also affects the accessibility and walkability of the town.

Our main reason for the support of Option 2 is ACCESSIBILITY, which includes the roadway realignment, parking relocation and streetscape improvements. Existing streetscape conditions exclude a large percentage of Wiscasset’s population, the elderly, which is growing at a rapid rate, and people with disabilities. Sidewalks in disrepair, deteriorating steps, non-compliant railings and ramps are just a few of the barriers and obstacles we have to deal with each day.

Just as we design roadways for use by a wide range of vehicles, so should we design sidewalks, walkways and crossings for use by a wide range of pedestrians. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that was enacted in 1990 for the purpose of ensuring that all Americans have the same basic rights of access to services and facilities.

The ADA compliance is a minimum standard, not an aspirational goal. The majority of Wiscasset’s storefronts are inaccessible. Accessible storefronts attract shoppers. From parents with strollers, to grandparents wielding a cane, to shoppers shouldering multiple packages, an easily accessible streetscape that appeals to multiple generations of buying power, accessibility is a winning business strategy that keeps customers with an inclination to “shop local” coming back.

It’s common business sense – when your town is inaccessible people are visiting businesses less often.
Save our stores and downtown by voting NO on the lawsuit on April 17!

Peter and Terri Wells

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